Event #858 Five Palestinian children killed by landmine planted by Israeli army outside their school Date: Thursday, 22 Nov 2001
On Thursday, 22 November 2001, an undercover unit of the Israeli army buried a mine in the sand that flows around Abdullah Siyam Primary School in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.
A few hours later, as Palestinian children headed to school, the mine exploded. Five school children were instantly reduced to broken flesh. The youngest was aged just six.
All came from the same extended family: Akram Naim Astal, 6, and his brother Mohamed, 13; Omar Idris Astal, 12, and his brother Anis, 10; and their cousin, Mohamed Sultan Astal, 12.
Their young bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. The limbs of one child were found 50 metres away. Some of the children could only be identified by their school bags, brightly coloured and spattered with blood, still dangling from their butchered bodies.
Initially, the Israeli army denied any guilt, alleging instead that the children had played with an old unexploded (Israeli) tank shell.
But after left-wing Israelis like Meretz leader Yossi Sarid accused the government of a cover-up, the occupation army at last admitted "indirect responsibility."
A statement issued by the army on 26 November accepted that the bomb that killed the five children had been planted by an undercover unit and that it "might have been activated" by an officer.
The army did not even give the families space to grieve. At the funeral on Friday, 23 November, Israeli soldiers sprayed the angry mourners with bullets. There, they killed another boy: 15-year-old Wael Ali Radwan from the neighbourhood of Abasan.
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